The most popular place in Africa for Japanese to visit is definitely Egypt with the 4,500 year old Pyramids the prime reason for them travelling there. That’s no surprise of course but very few (from the people I’ve spoken to since this trip!) seem to be aware that they need only travel as far as Tochigi prefecture to see such a wonder of the world!
Of course you can’t really compare the ancient, historical emblem of Giza with this bright yellow pyramid that appears rather abruptly in a forested area of Nasushiobara city. The techniques used for constructing the former were well beyond those of human civilisation at the time. The latter though has only been around for a small fraction of that time which basically means I have no idea when it was built!
Nishi-Nasuno is the closest station but be aware that it really is not near at all! There are buses which go in the direction of the pyramid but they are not regular and it is still a further 2.8 kilometre walk from the nearest bus stop. As a result I decided to just walk the lot which is a 75-80 minute walk! People will go hiking for a few hours with no real aim but when it comes to visiting a place that is over an hours walk away they don’t seem to do it. Not me though as visiting this bizarre pyramid was all I really had to do on this particular day.
Unbelievably this was not the first time to actually encounter a pyramid in Tochigi prefecture as Tobu World Square features the most famous part of Egypt among its many one-twenty fifth miniature recreations of the world’s most famous sights. My first view of the pyramids was not so good though as a cycling team had annoyingly congregated right in front of it meaning I had to bide my time before I could get some clear shots. A giant sphinx is installed at the base of the pyramid. The green trees surrounding it clearly show that I hadn’t slipped into a portal and been transported to ancient (or even modern) Egypt.
This place is officially called Pyramid Onsen (493-3 Niwatoko, Nasushiobara) and after such a long walk on a hot morning I was in great need of a soak in its hot communal baths. You can actually stay there too as 30 rooms are available for guests. You don’t need to be a guest though to use the facilities. I went inside and paid the 600 yen fee which I thought was a bargain but maybe that’s because I’ve just got used to going to these modern multiplex hot spring bath places. By contrast this was quite a basic place but the water was hot so what more can you want!
The spacious corridors leading to the baths (below) from the reception area were adorned with Egyptian themed art.
The two pictures below were taken after I had got out and when it was empty. The cycling team were in the baths with me and it was hard not to smile at their arm and leg tan-lines.
It felt good to be clean. Then I had to put my old sweaty clothes back on. Not so good. What was also not so great were the heavy thunderous showers which prevented me from leaving when I wanted. Consequently I engaged in some quality chill out time in one of the armchairs and waited for the rain to die down enough for me to brave the weather for a long return to the station.
When I did leave I decided to protect my trainers as they’re made of material which just can’t tolerate any water on them and all too easily get soaked. I probably wouldn’t put plastic bags on my feet in Tokyo but out in the countryside where very few would see me, I didn’t really care. I walked past the most basic of countryside shrines….
…and after about 30 minutes a lady driver amazingly stopped to offer me a lift to the station! I can only she must’ve felt sorry for me trudging along the road with some plastic bags on my feet! I didn’t care though and was of course very grateful for her act of kindness, even more so as she didn’t speak any English so stopping for a foreigner was a brave move. It didn’t save me any time but it certainly conserved some energy and brought about a very positive end to a whirlwind local trains trip of the northern part of Japan.
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Tobu World Square In Tochigi Prefecture’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Monkeying Around In Nikko’
Click here to read ‘A Day In Utsunomiya (Tochigi Prefecture)’